Some general questions from a new player

Also useful for decorating the office space of this tireless pedant


I fully understand your point, actually I felt just like that with modern correspondence chess, but the truth in there is that, without using and knowing how to use an engine, you will not win any games against engine equipped players.Hence my question.


The good thing is that people who play at your rank will be about your strength, whether they use an engine or not. If they would always win, their rank would be higher, and thus you wouldn’t play them.

By this logic only high level dan players have to be afraid of people who relay moves by an engine, although there is of course ‘assistance’ with an engine, where the player only occasionally uses an engine, or only uses it to check the score / count, etc. But then, these players still play at the level of their rank, so from your perspective there should technically be no difference (except perhaps morally speaking). Same thing holds for the joseki dictionaries / waltheri.

What’s a larger problem is sandbagging: people who deflate their ranks by escaping / resigning games to get to a lower rank and beat other players. But this is something that is a lot easier to recognise, and the moderation takes care of this very well (at least in my experience, I’ve not often felt I was playing a sandbagger).


This is one of the most important points in the thread.
If you hunt for the cheaters, you can go nuts trying to prove the cheaters.
Largely, if someone has a stable rank, reguardless if it involves unfair outside assistance, you are playing against the sum total of inputs to that account, which has still been ranked at that level.
Best to steel man opponents. Outcomes will be largely the same, only difference being your outlook at the end :stuck_out_tongue:


I appreciate your point and understand it, but the fact I play other 25k players does not mean they are not using an engine and will not soon be way above whilst I will still be buried under, with all the other 25ks that do not use engines. If you assume these tools give you a decisive advantage, at some point you have the bottom rows, neatly stacked at the lower levels because they do not use these tools, and the other guys at the higher levels pretending they do not use them. (mind you, this reasoning is teleported from chess, I have no idea if the same principles apply to engine using players in Go, from what I’m reading it seems it does not necessarily does)

I’ll be quite honest, there is a fundamental issue of trust here from my side, in the sense that, goes without saying, my question derives from the fact that I do not trust the ‘anti-cheating mechanisms’ this type of gaming sites use, neither do I trust other players not be armed to the teeth with engines, libraries and god knows what. My question was, as I said, more to understand if my ‘toothpick’ will be enough for the battle, or if I also need some nuclear weaponry. I’m happy playing by myself, using my own knowledge but, this assume we’re all (or the vast majority) on a level playing field, according to rank of course, as I mentioned before, my experience from chess is that, if someone is armed to the teeth and you’re not, you’ll be pommelled continuously, so I decided to ask this to figure out if this was the case with go. I can see the obvious difference between games that end around 30-40 moves (in some cases, much less) and a game that can go to 100-200 moves and how that would affect the usage of electronic aides.

1 Like

The fact that our server is not suddenly filled with 9d’s since Leela and the likes have become freely available shows that it’s not how you think it is.

I’m convinced most players here are not cheating, and if they are, they do it proportionally to their level, because there hasn’t been a sudden shift in ranks.

The main reason for playing at 25k is most likely lack of experience / knowledge of the game, and not that the rest of the site uses engines.


Personally, I don’t think you’ll gain anything by not playing your own moves and only relying on AI, libraries etc. It will get you nowhere.

Maybe some players slip through the cracks in higher ranks, but a decent good player, who became a good player by themselves, will surely rise.

I don’t understand if you mainly worry you won’t win or you won’t learn, because the nuclear option maybe will speed up the first a bit, but the second will be out the window.


In that sense , my worry is that I could end-up drawing the wrong conclusions from my defeats. I could conclude ‘well, it does not matter how hard I try, I’m still losing’, when the answer was ‘actually, you’re losing because you’re using your (little) knowledge against someone that is suplementing his (little) knowledge with a big aid’.

Before any endeavour, it’s important to know all of the ground rules.Only then can you draw the right conclusion from your actions. As I’ve said, my view is rather tainted from other experiences, so I felt asking the question could draw some interesting answers to gauge the lay of the land, since you all know far more about this website and the playing that happens here. In that I was not dissapointed!


Hmmm, what you’re saying is somewhat weird to me. Let me try to find common ground this way.

In go computers vastly outperform humans, just like in chess. If your opponent decides to cheat and use an engine to win against you, they’re going win. Exactly the same in chess.


As many others have said - the proof is in the pudding. If you are a 25k player, and you’re playing other 20-25k players - they should play LIKE BEGINNERS. If they are suddenly showing much more advanced play, you can always summon the site admins and have them provide a decision.

Imagine if you were in elementary school, playing SCRABBLE against other elementary school children. If they suddenly started playing college-level words that are FAR outside an elementary school vocabulary, you’d probably grow suspicious, right?

Now, I understand that - as a 25k player - it can be difficult to tell what is rank-appropriate play and what sort of strategy seems more advanced than the player’s stated rank. I get that those sorts of abilities are themselves the result of experience (i.e. 25k players usually don’t know joseki - but the ability to see that someone is using joseki requires you to know what those joseki are…)

All I can say is - you may have to just take a leap of faith, and play a few games against other 20-25 kyu players. If they play like 20-25 kyu players, they’re probably not using engines to cheat against you. If they keep making moves like they’re dan-level players, then they’re probably cheating :wink:

Like I said - I think once you actually start playing with folks here on OGS, that will hopefully go a long way to alleviating the trust issues you mentioned.


Just a word of caution, probably you will be losing at first, A LOT (lots of good players here, lots of new players as well). It doesn’t mean your opponent uses any kind of external aid.

My limited knowledge of the site says there are just lots of bona fide good players who play lots and lots of games. Just keep playing, you will find your rank when the time comes.

P.S. There are some new players on OGS that are not necessarily new Go players (for example people who played games IRL and now play online because of covid). Everyone starts with a provisional rank and these players will probably rise quick. It doesn’t mean they are cheating, they just reach their true rank.


Also - FWIW - there is a good thread where people discuss the differences of abilities and play-style by rank category:


Out of sheer curiosity, I went and looked for your username on OGS. Assuming this is you:

I took a look at all of your current games that have more than 10 moves. As a 14kyu player, I can say with some confidence that all of the moves your various opponents are making seem like beginner-level-appropriate moves. Nobody seems to be displaying the type of high-level play that would lead me to suspect that they might be using an AI engine to cheat.

The types of openings being played, and the tactics/strategy being used are pretty much what one would expect from 20-25k players. I don’t know if that helps you feel any more at ease… [shrug emoji]

If you have a previous game where your opponent’s play-style made you suspicious, please let me know and I can take a look at it with my intermediate-player eyes…


Yup, that’s me. And that was amazingly helpful, so many thanks for that. As you also noted, it’s virtually impossible for me to find out if people playing against me are using an engine or not, so I couldn’t really say yea or nae. What triggered my question was the doubt, and, if I may say so, the answers here have been amazingly helpful and, rather understanding of my concerns which is always the sign of a good online community, That is very pleasing by itself.


By the way, even if you would only play go at real life meetups and your opponents couldn’t look up josekis while playing: As a beginner playing against stronger players, even if they are not much stronger, you will probably lose many, many games. That’s just normal. :grin:


I’m glad that helped. FWIW - I can really relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed and in-over-your-head because Go is such a complex game, and the learning curve for a 25k player can seem dauntingly steep.

Even within the first 50 moves of a 19x19 game, there are SO many priorities to juggle, that it can be very easy for minor tactical errors (i.e. over-focusing on one contact fight) to snowball into major strategic blunders (your opponent uses direction-of-play to grab an early lead, etc).

I’ve been working on a (long/wordy) beginners guide. I feel like the articles on sente/gote and playing a balanced opening might help you find your footing:



That’s amazing! Many thanks for that.

1 Like

I am in the same boat (new to Go, came from chess).
If that’s really how correspondence games in chess are usually played that explains why I found some really good players there!
Seriously though, I think most people play to play, not to trick people online and essentially input a computer’s moves


It depends on where you play. In ICCF it’s you either use an engine or there’s no point even showing up, but that’s the way it is so it should not come as a shock. and lychess are different, very few people seem to play correspondence on lichess and in you just need to look at last year’s end-of-the-year mega championship to see what it looks like…

1 Like

Entire books are written on proper application of joseki. Yilun Yang wrote two volumes called “Whole Board Thinking in Joseki.” Every answer in those books follows a joseki, both the correct and incorrect answers. The point is “Congrats, you know a pattern. You’re still losing.”

Great books. Not really for beginners, but good stuff.